The big three “O” is approaching! This particular bday means an acute getting old blues for me. So many things I could have achieved by now! So many more successful people at my age! Such thoughts have been haunting me so I instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, I’ve decided to look on the bright side of life (just like Brian from “The Life of Brian”, whistling) and list 30 things I’ve learnt about people and life in the last three (!) decades.
1. The worst case scenario rarely happens
A lot of us live fearing the worst that prevents us from achieving what we want. I’d like to write a book…but what if people get offended with what I’ve written and someone will sue me and I’ll go bankrupt? You know the drill. On the top of normal ruminating I’m just an anxious person. That’s why I have to keep repeating to myself that the worst rarely happens. Even if it does we can’t predict our future circumstances, that may as well make the situation not tragic at all.
2. It’s never the end of the world
Unless it’s really the end of the world, it’s not the end of it. I’ve had things in my life that I deemed necessary for survival (like certain boyfriends, lol), when I lost them they turned out not to be. Sometimes seemingly bad events are blessings in disguise, even if it’s just to kick us in the ass and tell you “Hey, you’re being an asshole! You must change”. Some mistakes cost us more than others but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
3. You’re not the worst person ever
Have you ever felt that you are? I’m sure you know the feeling of a hangover terror that has nothing to do with actual events. Sometimes we really do something we’re not proud of, though. Whatever it is and however bad we feel, we’re not the worst person in ever. We make mistakes because we’re people. It’s all good as long as we learn from them.
4. Mindfulness meditation makes your life so much better
If you’re a stressball like me and pretty much anyone these days, you’ll benefit from regular mindfulness meditation practice. 10-20 minutes of mindful breathing a day can do miracles to your concentration, focus and stress levels. There’s plenty of research into it you can check out online.
5. Sport is important
You want to function well? Move your bum bum off the couch! Regular activity is such an important stress regulator that I can’t believe I’ve ignored it for so long. Sure it’s nice to look good but it just makes me healthier and happier. Plus, I want to be an active old lady that gets featured in Upworthy’s not someone who’s just surviving.
6. People are lazy and don’t like it when other people make better choices
Are you working hard on additional qualifications while working full time? Going home early on a night out because you want to hit the gym the next day? Skipping sweets because sugar isn’t that great for you? I’ve had all of these actions ridiculed. People question your good choices. This is more often than not due to the fact that your good decisions make them feel bad about their own choices. By putting you down or being the evil voice that makes you behave the bad way, they’re safe in their behavior.
7. Some people are not lazy and encourage positive change in others
I’m not always this person but I’m trying to be. I’m also trying to surround myself with such people. Sure, you can’t change the world but by changing yourself you change people who are around you and that, yet again, changes you.
8. You don’t owe an answer to most people
When a former colleague of mine was asked why doesn’t he have children yet at the “ripe” age of 33, he said “We’ll have children, when we’re ready”. People like to pry to things that don’t concern them. You owe an answer to your partner and to your friends. The rest of people doesn’t matter. Next time someone’s ask you a “Why?” say “Because I want to”, if they say “I don’t understand…” answer that they don’t have to as long as you do. You don’t have to get defensive, apologetic or aggressive. There is a way around it. Just so that we’re clear I’m talking here about personal choices and decisions, not about a situation when your boss asks you “Why didn’t you pitch at work for a week without letting me know?”. Then you better have an answer different than “Because I wanted to”.
9. Your family’s choices don’t have to be yours
My parents wanted me to do and be a lot of things. Some because of their own unfulfilled dreams, others because they genuinely considered some choices better than mine. We’re not born to be whatever our parents want us to be but to grow into our own people. It’s tougher to resist family than randoms but it can be done. Worst case scenarios are rarely true so even if your family tells you they’re disinherit you for something, they probably won’t. My latest shock in this respect was when an almost 40 year old recently married woman said that she couldn’t live with her husband before they got married because her family (not her) is very religious. Would you like to be this person? What other things such people compromise on?
10. The way we drink these days isn’t good for us
We live in a culture of excess. People tend to have a drink or two every time they go out or do something social. As it’s widely accepted no one thinks it’s a problem, unless you’re really behaving in an outrageous way. I’m trying to skip drinks whenever I can and I’m often asked “Why?”. Hell, for a long time I used to ask people that because drinking alcohol like water is considered normal. There’s plenty of reasons why to skip a drink: alcohol has a lot of empty calories, it spoils not improves your mood long term and is addictive.
11. People can be horrible
Some people are toxic, bad or simply horrible. If I see it on the news, I try not to dwell on it. If it happens in my life, I’m trying to get the person out of it as soon as possible. If someone betrayed you or purposefully hurt you, forgive but don’t let them ever do it again. Being around people like that is a time bomb, they’ll do it again.
12. People can be great
There’s a countless amount of times when I’ve been helped by strangers or almost strangers. I’m talking about small things like being helped to find a taxi when I was a helpless child in a big city and big things like someone I’ve spoken to for 10 minutes at a social event helping me to get a job. Focusing on the good seems to be the only way to navigate in our mixed world. As Professor Zimbardo (Google him if you don’t know him) said when interviewed by Tim Ferris, we focus on banality of evil but we forget there’s banality of good too.
13. Moaning and complaining are bad habits
Do you often indulge in moaning and complaining? It seems to be one of the entertainments of the masses. I certainly have a tendency and more than once was relieved after sharing my “poor-me” story. Unfortunately, it’s a bad habit. It makes you feel less responsible for your choices and therefore makes you less likely to introduce the right changes.
14. No one and nothing can make us happy
Family, a good partner, friends and financial stability are all important. They’re also elements of a good life. Having said that, I know that unless I constantly work on my perception of the world, even the best circumstances won’t make me happy. Worldly pleasures such as shoes, sex and booze bring only temporarily relief. If you pursue them too eagerly will leave you empty inside. How many times did you chase something that didn’t make you feel any better after you’ve obtained it? I, for sure, have done it plenty.
15. I’m responsible (and you’re too)
As simple as that. I may not be responsible for all the things that happen in my life but I’m responsible for my reaction to them. Stop blaming the world, Pussycat and take action.
16. “Lucky” is the favorite world of lazy people
There are numerous successful people who’ll tell you that they’re often labelled as “lucky”. “Lucky” gives you all the excuses in the world to people who seek them. If I call others lucky because they have successful relationships and careers (or something else), it means I’m not lazy AF, I’m just unlucky. How convenient and how hurtful for those who work their asses off to achieve their dreams.
17. We can do only so much with what we’re given…
Life is a lesson in humility. There are things that I don’t like about myself that I can change and there are those I cannot. Some of my dreams will never be fulfilled because I just don’t have the right skills to achieve them. Sometimes we have to give up, regroup and try something else.
18. …but we can be the best version of ourselves
It’s only and it’s a lot. I could waste my life hoping to be someone else or take what I have and do the best with what I’ve been given. We can achieve our full potential only by being the best versions of ourselves. Are you? Am I? At least I’m striving too!
19. Your quirks is what makes you special
Do you have a dark sense of humor? Spent your childhood crying over being a weirdo? Being normal is SO overrated. We’re not sheep to try to constantly fit in… Sometimes I walk around and see a bunch of girls who are clones of one another. Say “no” to being a Stepford wife and be a Katie girl instead. Embrace your weirdness and you’ll find people who appreciate you for who you are.
20. The size of your boobs doesn’t matter (!)
If only I knew that in my teenage years! Was there even a worse way to offend a girl than to call them a “flatchest”? It does seem ridiculous when you get older. Sure, it’s nice to have a perky pair of boobs and a nice cleavage, but why did I wish for them to be size E? Guys stare at your boobs regardless of their size (and do you even like it when they do?). Your partners enjoy them anyway. What was this teenage obsession even about?
21. Everything is bloody grey
Oh, I’m longing for the times of my melodramatic youth were things were just black and white. Adulthood teaches you that everything is grey. Even the best intentions can end up having the worst results and the other way round. Everything is GREY and we know nothing. We can just stay true to ourselves and hope for the best.
22. Sex is just sex
Sex can be amazing but it’s just sex. To think that you’ve spent so much of your youthful energy worrying about your virginity is just sad. Even the most amazing sex won’t make up for like of compatibility in a relationship and it shouldn’t be your guide.
23. If something smells like shit and looks like shit, it’s probably shit
“Oh I know we’ve had a bad start, but he REALLY cares about me just doesn’t know how to show it” bullshit stories have no longer a place in your late middle and late twenties. At some point even if I knew that someone’s a really good person deep inside, I based my opinion on behaviors not empathy or wishful thinking.
24. Listening to your intuition can help you
Intuition is often underestimated. It’s not always right so I wouldn’t obsess about what it says at facts. Having said that listening to a hunch, may save your ass or give you the answer you’ve been looking for (even if it’s not the easiest action to take).
25. The brownie points system mostly doesn’t apply
So you’re a nice guy who’s nice to a special girl and soon will be able to cash out his points and get sex? Or maybe you’re a lady who’s been sacrificing herself for a guy who treats her badly but surely he’ll soon realize her true value? That’s a childish attitude of believing that good always pays off and bad is punished. There are other laws that govern the world and the simple brownie points system doesn’t apply in many cases. Sure, you can score better if you’re already in the race, but otherwise this attitude is like trying to win a running competition by swimming nicely.
26. The baby craze before 30 isn’t a universal truth
So here it is, I’m 30 in three days and I still haven’t reached the baby craze stage. I’m still not 100% sure whether to have or not to have children. I certainly don’t crave being pregnant. In fact, I’m as partial towards adoption as I’ve ever been. Maybe it’ll change one day but I feel what many women try to sell to you as a universal truth is how some people feel and others don’t.
27. Good things take time
First impressions are important and so is enthusiasm about things. When I was younger I expected immediate results, though. Unfortunately all the good things (building your professional reputation, a relationship, a friendship, a skill etc.) take time. Patience is a key.
28. Too much focus becomes an obsession
When I want something I can put a lot of energy into pursuing such thing. Unfortunately, it can become an obsession and that prevents you from achieving your goals. Sometimes taking a step back and focusing on a different area of your life is the only way.
29. Famous people are people just famous
I used to look at famous people with awe as a teenager. I thought they wee larger than life. I’ve met a few in different circumstances and I’ve learnt they’re not any different than other people you meat in real life. Neurotic, boring, funny, nice, narcissistic…Sure knowing that wouldn’t help me be less starstruck if I met Stephen King, but can be useful with normal size stars!
30. Life is better with a special someone
Bad relationships can make your life tough, but a good one can make it so much better. It’s amazing to have a constant source of support and someone’s who’s always there for you. Most things in life only count if we can share them with others.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this summary. Of course, I’ve learnt more things in my lifetime such as: doing my laces, wiping my ass and painting my nails but I’m sure you don’t want to read more about those 😉
How was your 30th bday for you? Which bdays were depressing and which not? Tell me everything in the comments!